Ridgecrest residents are a step closer to clean, potable water.

Pipes have been laid from Ferriday’s water plant as construction crews began pressure testing and flushing pipe Wednesday. This process could take several days to complete.

Mayor Veller Ray Carroll announced the progress Ridgecrest’s regular meeting Tuesday night. 

Womack and Sons Construction Group are overseeing the process of connecting Ridgecrest’s water system to Ferriday. Womack and Sons Construction Group of Harrisonburg was low bidder at $917,584.

A nearly $1 million Louisiana Community Development Block Grant (LCDBG) will bankroll the tie in.

Money will also be used to purchase and install a new ground storage tank, purchase new radio-controlled water meters and install a handicap bathroom in city hall. The water line will run down Vidalia Drive.

In related action, Alderwoman Mitzi Bolyer and Darlene Humphries said they were confused on the cost of JCP Management Inc. contract to take over billing and collecting water bills.

According to Bolyer, she thought JCP’s total cost was $2,875 a month but in actuality was $5,010 which included an office employee as well as a certified plant operator.

Under the new contract, JCP will provide an employee on site for three days a week; collect, enter and process payments; deposit collected funds; answer phones; creating, dispatch and manage work orders; enter meter readings; print and mail bills; generate disconnect lists; process new service applications; provide access to online payments; and set up an after-hours 1-800 emergency number.

Ridgecrest will have to provide postage and billing cards.

Ridgecrest will also keep a clerk in office five days a week handing other village business.

“I’m disappointed because I felt like we didn’t get all the facts,” Boyler said. “This just puts us in a rock and hard place.”

Carroll was confident the move would save Ridgecrest money while providing quality service.

“We’re still saving money on chemicals and a Ridgecrest employee,” Carroll said.

Meanwhile, Ridgecrest aldermen will vote in January on a proposed 2022 budget with a general fund revenue totaling $170,172 while expenses reached $151,030.

General fund included fire, police and grants.

Sales tax was forecasted to generate the most revenue for the village totaling $87,500 followed by fines and DWI income at $25,000, according to the proposed budget.

Revenue from ad valorem taxes was expected to top $10,000 while money from franchise taxes total $18,000.

Garbage was Ridgecrest’s largest expenses at $37,250 for 2022, according to the proposed budget. 

Expenses from $35,360 worth of salaries was the second largest expense for the village followed by professional fees at $13,000.

Ridgecrest was generating approximately $1.3 million in total revenue from utilities, according to the proposed 2022 water, sewer and grant budget. Utilities budget was a separate budget from general fund.

Ridgecrest officials recorded $1.2 million in utility expenses.

Various grants generated the most revenue in its proposed utility budget. A Louisiana Community Development Block Grant (LCDBG) was forecasted to generate $910,000 while a Louisiana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant was benefiting the village $225,000.

Community Water Systems (CWEF) totaled $14,800 and a Louisiana Government Assistance Program (LGAP) was forecasted at $14,800, according to the proposed budget.

Ridgecrest also proposed $156,005 in utility sales for 2022.

Grants are reciprocal meaning they are also listed in the expenses for Ridgecrest as well as revenue.

Besides the grants, professional fees were the largest expense for the village at $60,840, according to the proposed budget.

Additionally, Bolyer and Humphries went against went against Mayor Veller Ray Carroll’s motion to hire Michael Johnson as Ridgecrest’s police chief.

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